I’ve been single since my divorce, which has been 7 years and counting now. That seems to be a fun fact that bothers everyone but me. I say this because for some reason, people love to decide all on their own—with no prompting from me—that they are going to “hook me up” with someone. Now, I’m going to be honest. I am not, nor have I ever been a fan of matchmaking. My thinking is if you are not a professional, don’t do it. I don’t practice it. I feel even more strongly about this after having been the victim of so many well-intentioned (at least I hope they were) horrible hook ups. This strong feeling only intensified after my horrible experience a few weeks ago at my cousin’s wedding reception.
Picture it: Cooper’s Hawk Winery. A quaint little restaurant in Oak Lawn, IL. I’m with my daughter partaking of the celebration for my cousin and her new husband. I see my aunt wave to me from across the room. She motions for me to come over to her. I walk over to her and she begins to ask me about my hair. She raves about how cute it is and how much she likes it. I politely say thank you and believe that’s the end of it, when she does a most strange thing. She angles me so that I can face the gentleman sitting next to her and makes a sweeping Price-Is-Right showcase model type motion across me as she looks at the gentleman and says, “This is my niece, Je’Niece. She went to Xavier University of Louisiana and she has a Master’s degree.” I find this rather odd, especially when you consider I graduated from grad school over a decade ago. So it’s not like she was announcing my latest accomplishment, or that she was announcing it to the room. No, this was meant as a selling point to one individual. The gentleman makes some small talk with me and I initially think nothing of it, until . . . My aunt, for no reason that I can think of, save for she must have experienced a late onslaught of Tourette’s Syndrome, boldly (and rather loudly might I add) says “Y’all should go out on a date!” At this point, I can’t hide the shock and confusion and so I ask, “How in the world did we get to that?” to which she replies, “Y’all both single.”
And there it was. The idea that my singleness was a condition, which required unnecessary and unsolicited help to alleviate. God forbid that I simply enjoy the reception without having a date forced upon me. I’d like to tell you that’s where it ended, but alas, I cannot. Nope. It went on. Sensing the hair bit was a ruse on my aunt’s part to get me to the table to meet this gentleman caller, I returned to my table. However, I believe the man received more prompting from my aunt so instead of reading the social cues I exhibited; he chose to listen to her and continue to pursue me. I, not wanting to be rude–and also trying to pay more attention to my daughter and the people at our table–continued to be polite. However, that didn’t help me much, since it seemed to give the gentleman a green light to pursue me. At long last, I decide it’s time to go. However, before I could make my great escape, my aunt walked over to me and announced, “Je’Niece he wants your number!” At this point, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. She senses this and asks, “What, you don’t like him?” I responded by saying, “I don’t know him.” She goes, “Well do you want to know him?” to which I said, “Not particularly.” She then says, “Well why not? He’s single.” There was definitely more to the story but I share this with you to illustrate why I am adamantly against matchmaking.
1. Most people just aren’t good at it. Sure everyone thinks they’re a regular cupid who can magically bring two people together to create the cutest couple. And why shouldn’t they? It’s simple. You just take two people; mix in some common ground, and Voila! Instant relationship. Right? Wrong! There is actually so much more that goes into bringing two people together to create a relationship. And most laypersons just don’t understand this. The average person simply picks two people they like and attempt to throw them together on some very arbitrary trait. I like John. And I like Mia. I will like John and Mia together. Yay! See my aunt’s logic as to why I would fit great with the gentleman. We were both single. That’s all that was needed.
2. It’s awkward as hell. Most people decide to play matchmaker without actually considering the parties involved. As with my aunt, she never even asked me if I was interested until AFTER the man sensed my rejection. If she’d asked me beforehand, she could have saved my aggravation and her gentleman friends feelings. And this isn’t the first time something like this has happened to me. It’s happened far too many times. One Christmas Eve at a family function, one of my grandmother’s church members was at the house. I noticed he kept hanging around me, but I thought it was simply because we were close in age, as everyone else was either much younger or much older than we. Nope. Not to be. One of my other aunt’s later pulled me to the side and announced more than actually asked, “You know I invited him here for you, right?” She was actually shocked when I answered “No.” I had to ask, “Did I ask you to?” She admitted that no I didn’t, but she just thought it would be a good idea for me to get with him since he and I were both single. Again, it made for an awkward night because she’d sent homeboy on a blank mission that he would not complete.
3. When considering the “couple,” most people don’t consider anything beyond the superficial. When people decide to play matchmaker, they don’t usually think about what will be the foundational glue to hold the two people together. Instead, they think, John likes money and food. Mia likes money and food. They can like money and food together! Yes commonalities are great. However, human beings are much too complex to reduce to simple commonalities. A relationship needs more than common surface traits to thrive. My best friend once tried to hook me up with one of her co-workers. She didn’t ask me if I wanted this. She didn’t even ask the coworker if he wanted it. She simply decided that she would do this and it would be great. Her logic was that I was cool, he was cool, and we were both into that “hippy-dippy” stuff. I mean, look at my aunt’s logic. Both the gentleman and myself were single. ‘Nuff said. If that wasn’t the making for a beautiful relationship, then I don’t know what is.
4. Most don’t know how to play their role. If you are playing matchmaker, then you know you role isn’t a participatory one. You are simply a liaison. A consigliere, if you will. You’re a conduit, which connects the two people. But then you back off and allow things to unfold as organically as they possibly can. However, the average layperson doesn’t understand this. They think they need be involved in the entire process, oftentimes trampling over their desired couple’s free will. They will stalk both parties to make sure calls were made, dates were done, what follow-ups are necessary. Take my aunt, for example. She felt it necessary to do the gentleman’s bidding for him and get my number to pass to him, instead of facing the fact that he took his shot and missed.
5. Frankly, I’m quite tired of other people trying to decide my fate. Ok, so this point doesn’t actually support my case, but it’s the truth. I am not the single friend who laments about her single status. So there’s no need for anyone to think that I need help with my single status. On the contrary, I’m quite content. So I grow tired of other people deciding that they’ve had enough of my single status and I need to be in a relationship simply because of their own stuff. Just let me live dammit! Why won’t they let me be great?!
All I’m saying is that people should play their roles. And if you are not Patti Stanger, or some other professional matchmaker, odds are pretty low that you’re skilled in that area. So that means, you best leave that area alone—as well as the people you’re messing with. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak for me. Trust me when I say, it’s not welcome. At all. And don’t get me wrong. I’m all for love. And I’m not against two people meeting through a mutual friend. But I think most people should leave the forced love connections alone.
January 18, 2016 at 3:55 pm
so if there are these “roles,” is there a “director,” a “stage,” etc. there is this very earnest and important discussion of such in “the presentation of self in everyday life by goffman you might want to peek inside and read..
January 18, 2016 at 7:36 pm
Thanks for the recommendation. I’m definitely going to check it out.
January 22, 2016 at 4:57 pm
I love your descriptions! Tourette’s, Patti Stranger… Your stories are SO wonderful and so REAL! Guess you told me. I owe my single daughter an apology! LOL!
January 22, 2016 at 5:47 pm
Lol! Oh Linda, tell me you weren’t just playing matchmaker without her permission!
January 22, 2016 at 5:54 pm
I had already picked out one of the brothas from church. Kind of stout, settled looking, but with a good paying job and SINGLE!
January 22, 2016 at 5:58 pm
Seriously though, what she explained to me was that she was alone and not lonely. I was the only one who was worried, she explained.
January 22, 2016 at 6:19 pm
Yes! I’m so glad she explained. That is the deal. There is a huge difference between the two. I have to say that to people often.